The Internet has made it possible to compare prices and buy products without ever leaving home. However, it has also made it easy for unscrupulous people to sell unapproved and counterfeit drugs to unsuspecting customers. These drugs may be:
- Too strong or too weak
- Missing key ingredients
- Made with dangerous ingredients
- Contaminated with foreign, even toxic, materials
- Made in unsanitary conditions
- Created using unsafe standards
- Improperly labeled, stored or handled
- Expired (out-of-date)
When it comes to buying medicine online, you can never be too careful. These tips from the FDA, the National Consumers League and the Partnership for Safe Medicines will help protect you if you buy medicines online.
Know Your Source
Only buy prescription medications from a safe, reputable source that is properly licensed. Online pharmacies with the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy’s Verified Internet Pharmacy Practice Sites (VIPPS) full accreditation are the safest way to purchase prescription drugs online. No other accreditation or verification program for online drug sellers covers as many areas—or as thoroughly—as VIPPS. Among other things, the VIPPS criteria examine:
- licensure compliance
- how the patient’s or caregiver’s identity is verified
- patient medication consultation
- how medications are dispensed
Protect Your Privacy
Don’t give any personal information, such as your social security number, credit card number, insurance information or medical history unless you are sure the Web site will keep your information safe and private. Look for privacy and security policies that are easy-to-find and easy-to-understand. Also, make sure that the site will not share your contact information with third-parties unless you agree.
Visit our Warning Signs section for a checklist of warning signs that can help you spot a rogue online drug seller.